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Mark Steyn

Articles by Mark Steyn

Illustration: Obama shrinks

STEYN: Obama zones out

What do Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal and BP have in common? Aside from the fact that they're both Democratic Party supporters. Published June 25, 2010

Illustration: Obama fragmenting by Greg Groesch for The Washington Times

STEYN: The epitome of mediocrity

I believe it was Jean Giraudoux who first said, "Only the mediocre are always at their best." Barack Obama was supposed to be the best, the very best, and yet he is always, reliably, consistently mediocre. His speech on oil was no better or worse than his speech on race. Yet the Obammyboppers who once squealed with delight are weary of last year's boy band. Published June 18, 2010

Illustration: Obama's universe by Alexander Hunter for The Washington Times

STEYN: Leadership in the abstract

So, a man swept into office on an unprecedented tide of delirious fawning is watching his presidency sink in an unstoppable gush. That's almost too apt. Published June 11, 2010

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan addresses lawmakers at the Parliament in Ankara, Turkey, on  Tuesday, June 1, 2010. Mr. Erdogan accused Israel of state terrorism in Monday's commando raid on a flotilla carrying aid for the Gaza Strip. (AP Photo/Burhan Ozbilici)

STEYN: Who lost Turkey?

Foreign-policy "realists," back in the saddle since the Texan cowboy left town, are extremely fond of the concept of "stability": America needs a stable Middle East, so we should learn to live with Hosni Mubarak and the mullahs and the House of Saud, etc. You can see the appeal of "stability" to your big-time geopolitical analyst: You don't have to update your Rolodex too often, never mind rethinking your assumptions. "Stability" is a fancy term to upgrade inertia and complacency into strategy. No wonder the fetishization of stability is one of the most stable features of foreign-policy analysis. Published June 4, 2010

Illustration: Obama spill by Greg Groesch for The Washington Times

STEYN: Rhetoric and regulation

One of the chief characteristics of Barack Obama's speechifying is its contempt for words as anything other than props of self-puffery. Consider, for example, his recent remarks to the graduating class of the U.S. Military Academy: Published May 28, 2010

STEYN: Lost in Obama's imagination

Barack Obama's remarkable powers of oratory are well known: In support of Chicago's Olympic bid, he flew into Copenhagen to give a heartwarming speech about himself, and the games were given to Rio. He flew into Boston to support Martha Coakley's bid for the U.S. Senate, and Massachusetts voters gave Ted Kennedy's seat to a Republican. In the first year of his presidency, he gave a gazillion speeches on health care "reform" and drove support for his proposals to basement level, leaving Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid to ram it down the throats of the American people through sheer parliamentary muscle. Published May 24, 2010

Lost in Obama's imagination

Barack Obama's remarkable powers of oratory are well known: In support of Chicago's Olympic bid, he flew into Copenhagen to give a heartwarming speech about himself, and the games were given to Rio. He flew into Boston to support Martha Coakley's bid for the U.S. Senate, and Massachusetts voters gave Ted Kennedy's seat to a Republican. In the first year of his presidency, he gave a gazillion speeches on health care "reform" and drove support for his proposals to basement level, leaving Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid to ram it down the throats of the American people through sheer parliamentary muscle. Published May 21, 2010

Ignoring Islam

With the Fort Hood mass murderer, the Christmas pantybomber and now the Times Square bomber, you may have noticed a little uptick in attempted terrorist attacks on the U.S. mainland in the last few months. Rep. Lamar Smith did, and at the House Judiciary Committee, was interested to see if U.S. Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. thought there might be any factor in common between these perplexingly diverse incidents. Published May 17, 2010

STEYN: An award for un-Islamophobia

The story of the Times Square bomber reads like some Urdu dinner-theater production of Mel Brooks' "The Producers" that got lost in translation between here and Peshawar: A man sets out to produce the biggest bomb on Broadway since "Dance a Little Closer" closed on its opening night in 1983. Everything goes right: He gets a parking space right next to Viacom, owners of the hated Comedy Central. But then he gets careless. He buys the wrong fertilizer. He fails to open the valve on the propane tank. And next thing you know, his ingenious plot is the nonstop laugh riot of the Great White Way. Ha-ha, what a loser! Why, the whole thing's totally - what's the word? - "amateurish," according to multiple officials. It "looked amateurish," scoffed New York's Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg. "Amateurish," agreed Janet Napolitano, the White House's amateurishness czar. Published May 10, 2010

STEYN: Bearing signs, not scimitars

I suppose the thinking runs something like this: All things considered, the polls on Obamacare aren't totally disastrous, and the president's approval numbers seem to have bottomed out in the low 40s, and when you look at what that means in terms of the electoral map this November, you've only got to scare a relatively small percentage of squishy suburban moderate centrists back into the Democratic fold, and how difficult can that be? Published April 23, 2010

STEYN: Obama in happy fairyland

In years to come - assuming, for the purposes of argument, there are any years to come - scholars will look back at President Obama's Nuclear Security Summit and marvel. For once, the cheap comparisons with 1930s appeasement barely suffice: To be sure, in 1933, the great powers were meeting in Geneva and holding utopian arms control talks even as Hitler was taking office in Berlin. But it's difficult to imagine Neville Chamberlain in 1938 hosting a conference on the dangers of rearmament, and inviting America, France, Brazil, Liberia and Thailand, but not even mentioning Germany. Published April 16, 2010

STEYN: Sweet licks for tax lovers

We are nearing the climax of "tax season." That's the problem right there, by the way: Summer should have a season, and baseball should have a season, but not tax. Happily, like candy canes and Christmas tree lights on Dec. 26, the TurboTax boxes will be disappearing soon from the display racks until the nights start drawing in and the leaves fall from the trees and tax season begins anew in seven or eight months' time. Published April 9, 2010

STEYN: A healthy dose of catastrophe

May I be boring? Or, if you're a regular reader, more boring than usual? Bear with me. There are some eye-glazing numbers and whatnot. Published March 27, 2010

STEYN: 'Deemocracy' in action

On Thursday, the California Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board voted to set up a committee to examine whether condoms should be required on all pornographic film shoots within the Golden State. California has run out of money, but it hasn't yet run out of things to regulate. Published March 19, 2010

STEYN: It's not about health care

So there was President Obama, giving his bazillionth speech on health care, droning yet again that "now is the hour when we must seize the moment," the same moment he's been seizing every day of the week for the past year, only this time his genius photo-op guys thought it would look good to have him surrounded by men in white coats. Published March 7, 2010

STEYN: Our own Greek tragedy

While President Obama was making his latest pitch for a brand new, even more unsustainable entitlement at the health care "summit," thousands of Greeks took to the streets to riot. An enterprising cable network might have shown the two scenes on a continuous split screen - because they're part of the same story. It's just that Greece is a little further along in the plot: They're at the point where the canoe is about to plunge over the falls. America is further upstream and can still pull for shore, but has decided instead that what it needs to do is catch up with the Greek canoe. Chapter One (the introduction of unsustainable entitlements) leads eventually to Chapter 20 (total societal collapse): The Greeks are at Chapter 17 or 18. Published February 26, 2010

STEYN: Selective safety

News from around the world: In Britain, it is traditional on Shrove Tuesday to hold pancake races, in which contestants run while flipping a pancake in a frying pan. The appeal of the event depends on the potential pitfalls in attempting simultaneous rapid forward propulsion and pancake tossing. However, in St Albans, England, competitors were informed by health and safety officials that they were "banned from running due to fears they would slip over in the rain." Watching a man walk up the main street with a skillet is not the most riveting event, even in St Albans. In the heat of the white-knuckle thrills, team captain David Emery momentarily forgot the new rules. "I have been disqualified from a running race for running," he explained afterward. Published February 19, 2010

STEYN: Giving in to group-think

A man asks for a plastic bag at the supermarket checkout. Next thing you know, his head's slammed against the counter, and he's being cuffed by the Green Police. "You picked the wrong day to mess with the ecosystem, plastic boy," the enviro-cop sneers as the perp is led away. Cut to more Green Police going through your trash, until they find - a battery! "Take the house!" the eco-commando orders. And we switch to a roadblock on a backed-up interstate, with the Green Police prowling the lines of vehicles to check to see if they're in environmental compliance. Published February 12, 2010

STEYN: The 'corpseman' cometh

At the National Prayer Breakfast, President Obama singled out for praise Navy Corpsman Christian Bouchard. Or, as the president called him, "Corpseman Bouchard." Twice. Published February 8, 2010